It is National Children’s Mental Health Week and there is a lot of focus and useful information regarding the mental health and resilience of children. What seems to be missing from the messages however is how critical to this resilience are us, as parents. We don’t learn to be resilient on our own, in a bubble or in our sleep, we learn this skill from watching how our parents, carers or those who have a role in raising us deal with difficulties and bounce back or not.
When was the last time you thought about your own resilience and capacity to parent effectively? Imagine the array of emotions and situations you will find yourself in this week, are you ready, have you rested at the weekend, do you feel able to deal with it in a calm and considered way?
We are currently going through the first year of GCSE’s in our house and I think that many of the critical situations we find ourselves dealing with are at the end of a long working day. It is usually when we have forgotten to leave any energy in the tank for dealing with a minor crisis at home. Parenting is not an easy job and we can sometimes forget that without the aid of a manual or a guide most of the time we are just responding with our intuition.
Looking after yourself and ensuring we are able to connect positively with our children even when they are in a difficult or challenging place is key to helping them build their own resilience.
So what are we aiming for? A resilient child can recognise the positive aspects to their life, if you are finding that all your conversations revolve around the problems in your child’s life don’t forget to introduce what is going right for them also.
Reminding them of the people they have around them who support them emotionally and love them un-conditionally is a good way of drawing them back into a more positive mind space. It is also a reminder to us as parents to check our language with our children, are we demonstrating un-conditional love or do they interpret our drive for them to do well and achieve as meaning that if they fail at their tests, they fail us or worse, they are a complete failure. Try to avoid being another pressure point for your child, enable them to relax around you, life will go on if the maths test does not work out.
Having a positive narrative or internal story that they think about themselves is really important and especially as a changing adolescent, if they can feel good about who they are then they can cope with the challenges ahead of them. Try to resist reminding them of all the things they are not doing as they will be thinking of those enough on their own.
If the results your child is achieving are concerning for you, think about how to increase their motivation through positive reinforcement. Children are never too old to experience reward and this does not have to be something big but just a mini-motivator.
Above all, encourage your child to express their thoughts and feelings to you. Even if you do not know always what to say or do in the situation, knowing means you can begin to help. This will also enable them to regulate their emotions and not feel so overwhelmed by their experiences. It will also support them in the future to problem solve.
If you would like some more personal advice about your child then please get in touch with us at the Arden Centre on 01926 298780 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org